Woman worried about recovery during the holidays

Festive Frustration And Your Recovery

The holiday season is usually synonymous with unfiltered joy and a plethora of love and freedom to start anew. However, for those in recovery or recently sober, this time of year is generally linked with higher depression, stress and anxiety rates. How do you weigh your familial and holiday obligations while still focusing on your recovery? What happens if your family impedes your treatment, forces you to question your true sense of self or regress? 

Read further for more information and tips for making the best of the holidays and preventing relapse.

When Family Gets in the Way of Your Recovery

Having a dependable support structure is essential for every healing process. As we draw closer to the family festivities, it is notably crucial to establish and reinforce your support system. If the holiday season is particularly triggering for you, we recommend scheduling phone calls with individuals in your support strategy, check-ins with your sponsor or forming an exit plan for specific events ahead of time to reduce the potential for relapse. 

We have collected some tips and tricks to aid in navigating your recovery during the holidays:

  • Set reasonable expectations and pinpoint your limits
  • Manage interactions with uncooperative or previously abusive family members
    • Limit how regularly you visit them
    • Set boundaries for discussions that are off-limits 
  • Prioritize your mental health
    • Eat healthily, have a full night’s sleep
    • Remember to breathe and practice mindfulness as needed
    • Identify your triggers
    • Remember: Your biggest responsibility is to yourself and your recovery; repeat this mantra as needed

When Family Affects the Sense of Self That You Achieved

Your addiction recovery will award you with an opportunity to explore your values, beliefs and principles thoroughly. This will assist you in determining your truest self and the skills needed to boost your confidence and embrace who that person is. Research indicates that low self-esteem can contribute to substance use, whereas healthy self-esteem correlates with a lower risk of substance use

The following tips serve as reminders for preserving your sense of self and building up your self-esteem, even if your family or the holidays make you question it:

  • Don’t compare yourself to others
  • Set up boundaries to reinforce your values and beliefs
  • Recite positive affirmations daily
  • Focus on your progress
  • Remember: you know what is best for you; trust and listen to yourself 

What is Regression and What Do You Do About It? 

Research identifies regression as an unconscious coping mechanism that results when we are under a lot of stress. Returning to your hometown for the holidays can sometimes reignite implicit memories, cause you to slip into an earlier stage of your development, bring up old and unresolved arguments or family conflicts and plunge into old habits. If you can identify your triggers, you will realize the onset of regression quicker and reduce the chances of experiencing it.

Here are some triggers to be aware of this holiday season:

  • Music: if you know a specific holiday song evokes intense anxiety or feelings of depression, create a new holiday playlist and do not put that song on it. 
  • Being in your childhood home: if this is notorious for terrible memories, suggest eating at a restaurant instead.
  • Make new traditions: mark your recovery as a new chapter and arrange new traditions accordingly.

At Promises Behavioral Health, we understand that substance abuse, recovery and challenging family dynamics—especially during the heightened stress of the holidays—are complicated. So we provide multiple pathways to recover. Some of which include educational resources for you and your family, as well as multi-family groups. We incorporate your support system into your relapse prevention plan to aid in a smooth transition once you’ve finished treatment. If you or a loved one are interested in learning more about our services, contact us on our website or give us a call at 844 875 5609.

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